12 min read
After our CEO Greg spending 48 hours in Basel and bringing you some amazing travel recommendations, our Head of Operations Sam takes you on a journey to Amsterdam, also known as 'Venice of the North'.
Amsterdam is one of those cities with a stellar reputation, and yet, it still manages to beat expectations! Famed for a lot of things from tulips, windmills and canals to the red-light district and cannabis culture, this is a city of wonders for saints and sinners and everyone in between.
Amsterdam began as a small fishing village in the 12th century on the banks of the Amstel river and the city’s name derives from the original Amstel dam. Now, it is the capital of the Netherlands and the largest city in the country. It boasts more canals than Venice (yes, Venice!), is filled to the brim with truly weird and wonderful museums and is reckoned to have more culture per capita than any other city in the world. Pretty impressive stuff!
This fairy-tale destination is only an hour and fifteen minutes away by air. I don’t know about you but if I could pick between my Friday evening commute and hopping on a plane to Amsterdam, I know which I’d choose! I’ve done some hardcore planning to pack as many of Amsterdam’s goodies as possible into this 48-hour itinerary so buckle your seatbelts, it’s going to be a wild ride!
After a 1 hour flight from London Luton, I land at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (the main airport in Amsterdam). I want to make the most of my time in the city so I jump in a taxi and head straight to the 3* Westcord Art Hotel to drop off my bag.
Located next to the Westerpark and within walking distance of the center of Amsterdam, Westcord Art Hotel is perfect for travellers that want to explore the city. Sights such as Theater Amsterdam are within easy reach of the hotel.
Ideal for an evening out! A few of the nicest Amsterdam neighborhoods such as the 'Jordaan' and 'Oud-West' are also nearby. Don't feel like walking? The hotel is also easily accessible by public transport.
With an average rating of 4/5, I'm sure it's going to be a great stay!
For a refined start to your holiday, pick between visiting the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum is dedicated to Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages to present day and features over 8,000 works of art and historical artefacts. Whether it is Rembrandt's famous painting De Nachtwacht, the immaculate 18th-century dolls’ houses, or the collection of Asian artefacts, there is something to amaze you around every corner at the Rijksmuseum.
Photo Credit: @alsoinlovewithamsterdam
You win no prizes for guessing what the Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to! More than a typical art gallery though, the museum also tells the story of Van Gogh’s life through his sketches, letters and journals. It is a truly wonderful insight into this great artist’s life unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere. It is so hard to choose between these two equally incredible museums so remember there is no shame in flipping a coin if you have to!
Photo Credit: @vangoghmuseum
Get back outside into the Amsterdam sun and complete your morning by hiring a canal bike and going for a pedal along the river. Not only is this activity brilliantly fun but also the view of the city from the water is simply mesmerising and not to be missed.
Next up is the super cool, delightfully artsy, bohemian district of De Pijp. You’ll be happy to hear this is one of the best places to eat in Amsterdam! The Albert Cuypstraat is the city’s largest street market and it is full of colourful fabrics, quirky eateries and funky graffiti. This is a great place to try the Amsterdam specialty of Raw Herring! Though perhaps not the most instantly enticing dish ever, you simply have to try it. Ask for broodje haring to get the fish served in a small sandwich with pickles and onions.
Photo Credit: @epicerie_amsterdam
For those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss a chance to get a stroopwafel. Two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup – delicious! Stroll around this fabulous area as you munch on your street food.
Photo Credit: @didisstroopwafels
After a bit of directionless wandering, find your way to the very first Heineken brewery which is now open for explorations! Book the Heineken Experience to learn all about the popular beer’s heritage, brewing process and even the best way to taste and enjoy a nice cold pint!
Photo Credit: @themancavemanireland
As the sun begins to set, it is time to explore the most iconic area in Amsterdam, the Red-Light District. Though famed for its sex shows and legal prostitution, there is so much more to discover as you wander the cobbled lanes of this exiting and unique area. Here you can find the city’s oldest building, the Oude Kerkes, whose gorgeous architecture dates back to the 13th century.
Photo Credit: @lilianespencer
If you’re planning on doing some heavy drinking, make sure to check out the Hangover Information Centre where they can provide you with a hangover fixer elixir. There’s only one way to find out if it truly works!
Photo Credit: @_liamaf
For some good ol’ fashioned fun, try the TonTon Club. A barcade (bar + arcade) filled with retro games, foosball, air hockey and more. The Red-Light district is also famous for its coffee shops. Not to be mistaken for cafés, Amsterdam’s coffeeshops specialise in cannabis. I am not saying you should partake, but what happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam!
Photo Credit: @clsjnn
The Bulldog is a great spot and the oldest coffeeshop in the city or for a slightly less busy option try Green House United which has a large aquarium for you to ogle as you relax with a spliff! Find somewhere to eat whilst you’re here as well. At Blauw aan de Wal you’ll get an insanely good meal of Mediterranean Dutch fusion dishes or Burger Bar serves exactly what it says on the tin.
Photo Credit: @thebulldogamsterdam
Amsterdam takes its nightlife seriously. So seriously in fact that they have a Night Mayor whose job it is to keep the city’s nightlife booming and safe. Get a real taste of what Amsterdam has to offer and dance til dawn at the super-club Air. With three separate rooms, five bars, an LED wall and R&B/hip hop music all night long, Air has all the ingredients needed for a great night.
Photo Credit: @favelasomsistema
Feeling a bit worse for wear? Nothing like breakfast at Dignita to cure what ails you! This glass walled café in the park offers big brunches perfect for soaking up last night’s booze and the gorgeous views are guaranteed to have you feeling perkier in no time.
Photo Credit: @dignitaamsterdam
Not far from here is the only floating flower market in the world, Amsterdam’s very own Bloemenmarkt! Founded in 1862, and virtually unchanged since then, the market provides a glimpse into Amsterdam’s past. Admiring the vibrant colours and fragrances of the many flowers is the ultimate feel-good experience. Its also a great place to pick up some typically Dutch souvenirs!
Photo Credit: @kati.gaensebluemchen
Finish your morning at the Anne Frank House, the place where she went into hiding and wrote her diary. Parts of the house have been preserved so you can see exactly where she hid from the Nazis and there are extracts from her diary as well as information about her struggle. Visiting is as heart-breaking as it is informative, and it really hits home the atrocities of the Nazi regime.
Photo Credit: @annefrankhouse_official
Begin your afternoon by quickly checking out Dam Square. Right in the city centre, the sides of this square are lined with some of Amsterdam’s finest buildings. The glorious Koninklijk Palais (Royal Palace) dominates the west, and you can also see the impressive Town Hall, the famous Karsnapolsky hotel and the spectacular National Monument here.
Photo Credit: @evgeny_amsterdam
Grab some snaps before heading for a pitstop at De Drie Graefjes. Enjoy a fresh coffee and a slab of cake or pick something from their sumptuous lunch menu if you need something more substantial.
Photo Credit: @dedriegraefjes
Refuelled, you are ready to take on one of Amsterdam’s more eccentric museums! Choose between the infamous Sex Museum or the incredible Body World’s Exhibition – the most ambitious can attempt to whirlwind around both but I’d recommend quality over quantity. The Sex Museum is the world’s first and oldest museum dedicated to all aspects of sensual love through the ages. Here you will find an extensive display of erotic pictures, paints, recordings, photographs and more all guaranteed to make you snigger and blush! The Body World’s Exhibition is not for the squirmish as it is filled with 200 preserved real, human bodies. The museum’s purpose is to explore the science of happiness and how it effects the body. Learn about how things like exercise, food, love and sex impact your happiness and how this in turn effects your health. This fascinating exhibition will truly affect how you perceive your life.
Photo Credit: @gogomos1
Let all your newfound museum knowledge soak in over a nice refreshing cocktail at Door74. Not many tourists know about this speakeasy style bar thanks to its concealed entrance, so you’ll be rubbing elbows with friendly locals. The dark wood, art deco interior, provides a luxury setting as you enjoy a drink from the brilliant and inventive menu.
Photo Credit: @deborahteklerphoto
When in Amsterdam, you have to try rijsttafel and one of the best places for this is at Sama Sebo. Rijsttafel, which literally means "rice table", is essentially a feast of small Indonesian dishes. Rather than being Indonesian, rijsttafel is a Dutch colonial invention that allowed colonists to sample dishes from all over the islands. Its origin story may not be the cleanest, but the flavours are immaculate!
Photo Credit: @thecitizen.nl
Your holiday isn’t quite over yet so make every minute count by partying the night away at Paradiso. This club is located in a former Portuguese synagogue which makes for some fantastic acoustics! Dance until you drop – you can always sleep on the flight home!
Photo Credit: @paradisoadam
If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Barcelona, Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!
The team at BeRightBack believes that the mission of a travel company should be to save you both time and money.
With BeRightBack, you get three trips a year to three surprise European destinations, all for the monthly cost of £49.99, which includes your return flights and your hotel.
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I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Amsterdam and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!
Sam Norman (Head of Operations of BeRightBack)
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